2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part III

March 3, 2004

2004 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC Team (2/22/2004)

 

2004 Jaguar XK8

2004 Jaguar XK8

Jaguar used the show to announce an update for its XK8 sports convertibles and coupes. The XK8 has been around since 1996, and continues to be steady seller in the luxury boulevard cruiser segment. The supercharged XKR was a mid-life introduction to the range and gave the car some extra performance credibility with sub 6-second acceleration from zero to 60 mph. The range has matured now, into open and closed versions of the XK8, for those that seek the cachet of a Jaguar in two-seat form, and the XKR, which provides the same upmarket street appeal with the exciting performance fans of older Jaguars remember so fondly.

The new versions, which will go on sale immediately, have undergone a modest restyling operation to the nose, with a sleeker headlamp treatment and a new low-level air-intake below the grille. The lamps look smooth and the air-intake looks aggressive, and the overall impression is that the car is more powerful. It isn’t, however, for under the hood nothing has changed. It has to be said that nothing needed to be changed, for following engineering improvements made three years ago, which included the expansion of the engine’s capacity to 4.2 liters, the Jaguar V8, in normal or supercharged form, provides all the performance the average XK8 customer requires. There’s 300 hp from the normally-aspirated unit and 400 from the blown version.

The restyle also includes lower side sills and a reshaped tail with a wing for the XK8 and a slightly larger wing for the XKR. There are three new wheel styles, one a full 20 inches in diameter, but no changes to the car’s already advanced electronics or already luxurious interior. In short, this is no new model, but a face-lift on a car whose replacement is already being worked on.

2004 Jaguar S-Type

2004 Jaguar S-Type

Jaguar also released details of the diesel-powered S-Type, a car that is of marginal interest to Americans, but of great interest to Europeans and the people charged with selling Jags in Europe. Diesel is of growing interest there, and even the Brits are being won over to oil-burners. U.S. drivers aren’t interested at the moment, but with combined fuel economy figures of 33 mpg (US) for an S-Type Jag, you will be, you will.

 


MG Rover
introduced a version of its Rover 75 sedan fitted with the 4.6-liter Ford V-8 it already uses in an MG version of the company’s top of the range sedan. The new model, which replaces a 2.5-liter V-6-powered car as Rover’s flagship, has the traditional interior accoutrements of a British limousine, coupled with a 150-mph top speed. The car is more than just an engine-graft job, for while the 75 is a front-drive design, the 75 V-8 is driven through the rear wheels. That’s a quality that MG Rover’s engineering staff, a bunch of true car enthusiasts, insisted on for a car that has 260 horses under the hood.

2004 Rover 75

2004 Rover 75

The nose has been modestly restyled, with a deep air-intake below the main grille. This harks back to earlier Rover V-8s, which always had a deeper air intake to feed the more powerful engine and to emphasise the car’s upmarket status. It has to be said that the nose is very reminiscent of Audi’s new corporate grille, unveiled on their stand on the new A6. Audi’s entire design staff should be marched over to the MG Rover display to show them how their grille should look. The 75 V-8 will start production in May. Whether bit will add much to the company’s bottom line is a matter for conjecture, but there will be plenty of Brits wishing it well.

 

2004 Tata Indigo Advent

2004 Tata Indigo Advent

Tata, India’s largest car manufacturer and one of the largest industrial groups in the sub-continent, is a regular exhibitor in Geneva. It used this year’s show to announce the Indigo Advent, a new model on the platform that already forms the basis of the Indica hatchback, the Indigo sedan and the Indigo Station Wagon. The Advent is a mini-MPV crossed with what we must now learn to call a ‘soft-roader’, an SUV with pretensions to, but no equipment for, venturing off-road.

Tata is already good enough to build a small sedan that MG Rover sells as an entry-level Rover in Europe, and the company sells under its own name in a number of markets. Cost is of course the big selling point, but in terms of simple and reliable engineering and acceptable styling, the cars are able to hold their own against imports from any of the emergent car manufacturing nations. Engineering is not advanced, but it is not antiquated either, and the Indigo Advent has attractive styling, interior space and car-type handling to attract European buyers who consider value for money ahead of the name on the hood.

Tata is a name with a future in the world auto industry, a fact underlined by the sight of Ford boss Sir Nick Scheele spending time on the company’s stand talking to Ratan N. Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group.

 

2004 Skoda Octavia

2004 Skoda Octavia

Skoda is one of the six brands in the VW Group that have new models or concepts on show at Geneva (only Bugatti has nothing new). A VW press presentation on the eve of the show emphasised that design is the aspect of the car that has most impact on the customer today. In what must be a first for a German manufacturer, not one engineer was put up as a company spokesman. The head of VW Group design was the presenter for the evening, and each brand’s design boss introduced its Geneva newcomer. Skoda’s introduction, the new version of the mid-size Octavia sedan, was very well-received by the assembled journalists. Skoda is gradually overcoming the reputation it had when it was one of the few ‘Iron Curtain’ cars that sold in any numbers in Europe. The reputation was not really deserved, but in the days when anything produced in Eastern Europe was automatically denigrated, Skoda became the butt of many jokes. Ever since it was taken over by VW, the Czech company has been rebuilding its image. Today it is seen in many markets as a car with VW quality at Eastern European price levels, and the new Octavia will surely help to polish the image further. Styling is one of the car’s major advantages; from the handsome nose to the shapely tail it looks the equal of any of its competitors from Europe or Asia. Equipment levels are up to ‘European’ standards, with a choice of six VW-sourced engines and four transmissions, including the new slick-shift DSG box first introduced by Audi last year. Apart from the badge on the nose and the list price, there is now little to distinguish the Skoda from any other Euro-sedan. The Octavia will go into production in the summer.

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